Our two week anniversary in-country has arrived, can it really be true? No cake to celebrate but we part-take of fried egg and toasted rolls (turned out to be sweet rolls) for the boys, and an omelette for Tania and me, at the local warung. The boys mostly eat the pancake, but are not too enamoured with the rolls so we end up finishing them. Mateo discovers that he quite likes omelette and helps Tania to clean her plate!
We grab the gear and head North. It seems a long way in the heat as we trudge over the sandy road. We pass stranded cyclists bogged down in the deep sand, and we in turn are passed by the occasional horse and cart with jingling harnesses and horns. Rounding the headland we move to the beach in search of a good spot to set up our base eventually finding a spot under the shade of a gnarled tree clinging to the shore, its roots half in and half out of the sand. Before us was adventure. A virgin sea holding the promise of turtles in abundance and schools of fish flitting between the multi coloured coral. There was indeed all of this when we sallied forth, save the turtles. Despite a lengthy search, the deep did not yield a single one to us.
As hunger growled in our tummies we gave up the search and headed back to the east coast in search of somewhere to dine. The establishments on the north side are few and far between and, shall we say, exclusive with a price tag to match! As you head along the east coast in the direction of Central they become more frequent and many have shaded dining areas lining the sand. The idea here is that you go for breakfast or lunch, or coffee and drinks, grab your spot and then stay for the rest of the day. One must not take the mick, of course; if you are to stay all day, then one must order something fairly often. And so it was at one of these restaurants that we took our lunch and bagged our spot by the beach. We were encouraged by a board stating “Snorkelling Area – Turtle Point!” – was this an sign? An omen of good things to come? Time will tell.
After lunch Tania read some Billionaire Boy to the boys and I went off on another solo snorkel to see what I could find. Suddenly I spotted it, not 3 metres from me. A sea turtle hovering above the reef. It was biting and ripping the coral with its beak, sometimes with the aid of its front flippers, and feasting on the morsels found within. Mesmerised, priviledged, I floated above it for a while, transfixed. Without warning, it rose up in front of me swimming slowly to the surface it broke the waves (to breathe) and then dived once more to continue its feeding. Oh wow! The excitement and emotion I felt in witnessing such a spectacle was overwhelming – it was just there, in front of me, I could have reached out and touched it.
I attempted to signal Tania, frantically waving and beckoning to her – she and the boys just thought I was checking in and saying Hi! I finned it back as swiftly as possible, and in hushed tones (for this was my secret discovery, not for everyone!) excitedly related my experience. En famille we set off back to the spot but it had moved. Thankfully not far and we soon relocated it, however it was not as close as before and was feeding it’s way back down to its usual resting place on the edge of the island shelf. Still, it was “Totally awesome!” according to three exhilarated young men.
It was the perfect way to end the day’s snorkelling and we headed back home. As we walked along there was a “Hello” and we looked up to see a face we recognised. It was one of the teachers from the school we had visited (the nephew). He invited us to sit and chat and revealed that he worked in the school for 3 days and spent the other 4 with his family on Gili T. We talked until the sun set and then set off home tired and happy, and quite a bit hungry!
Dinner was taken next to the fast boat office. The food was disappointing but it gave me the opportunity to check in with the boat men. In usual fashion there was confusion over the tickets and our lack of proper receipt – resulting in some phone calls which did not yield any answer. Oh bother! Or words to that effect. Oskar and Luca fell asleep on the cushions after dinner and Tania and I had to carry them all the way home. Mateo chit-chatted all the way home, but after being in bed for a few seconds, he too made the journey to the land of nod.
The thrill of my turtle encounter still with me I drifted off to a contented sleep mildly bemoaning the fact we hadn’t bought an underwater camera. What an amazing day. What would happen tomorrow?